Energy Regulatory Commission wants more power to lower prices

Energy Regulatory Commission wants more power to lower prices

THE Energy Regulatory Commission now has a request to Congress to amend the decades-old EPIRA Law.

The legislative mill is now up and running to amend the decades-old Electric Power Industries Act or EPIRA Law.

President Bongbong Marcos wanted to amend the law passed in 2001.

After winning the election, the President said that EPIRA is outdated, needs to be changed, and its implementation tightened.

“We have to be very strict in enforcing EPIRA but beyond that, we also have to look at possible amendments to EPIRA,” said Pres. Bongbong Marcos on EPIRA Law.

With that, the Department of Energy presented its version of the new EPIRA.

Under this, the President of the Philippines will now have the power to declare an electric power crisis if the supply is extremely low or the price of electricity is excessively expensive.

The President is also empowered to suspend the collection of taxes and other royalties on all ‘indigenous sources of energy.’

The national government will also be empowered to take over a transmission facility if necessary.

“Transmission problem – that’s the cause why we black out. So what we did was not just for the foreign ownership but we said that if NGCP cannot complete a project as scheduled, the government can take over it,” said Usec. Sharon Garin, Department of Energy.

According to a congressman, the power of the Energy Regulatory Commission or ERC needs to be strengthened.

This is to check if the price of electricity sold by the plants is reasonable.

It is said that ERC only holds distribution and transmission lines.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines or NGCP as well as power companies such as Meralco and electric cooperatives are targeting this.

“That even if they show examples such as coal – that’s being imported… So even if it’s just the importation documents, how much do they pay for it and then plus the taxes they calculate,” said Rep. Sergio Dagooc, APEC Party-list.

“If it becomes expensive, at least we are assured that the cost is right and there is no excess,” he added.

The ERC agreed to this but they have an additional request to the Congress.

According to ERC Chair Mona Dimalanta, since EPIRA was passed, the number of distribution companies reregulated by the agency has tripled.

So they hope to increase their funds and manpower.

“We would like to request that the structure of the ERC be changed so that we can be more responsive to the growing power sector,” said Atty. Mona Dimalanta, Chairperson, Energy Regulatory Commission.

They also request to impose higher fines on violating companies or coops.

Right now, the maximum penalty they can impose is only P50 million.

They also request that the penalty be deducted from the monthly consumption.

In this way, the price of electricity will drop immediately.

“So we are asking that we will be having the ability to require those we penalized for example ₱50 million, ₱500 million, be used in the utility for example as rebates or refunds so that the impact on the consumers who were affected by them will be quickly reduced,” said Atty. Mona Dimalanta, Chairperson, Energy Regulatory Commission.

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